Think Before You Speak, Would’ja?

Remember this story? If you haven’t read it, you should.  The story is as follows:  The Fashionista shows a teacher a project that is due the following day.  She asks for feedback and he says, “This project sucks.”  He goes on the show her project to other classes later in the day.  Her name is not on it, but word gets around.  He says to the other classes, “This is an example of a project that sucks.”  So not cool.

The Fashionista re-worked the project that night and ultimately completed the course with this teacher.   TF had zero interest in dealing with this situation.  She wanted it to go away.  She did not want an apology.  In fact, she wanted us to let the entire situation fade swiftly in the First Quarter’s rear view mirror.

We told her, “Sorry.  Parental veto power taking effect here.”  We agreed to let it go until the class was over.  As soon as she started her new “satellite” class, The Major contacted the school.

Lucky for us, The Major knows the principal from the gym.  It makes it so much easier when you have some initial contact with the administration.  They know you aren’t some crazy, lunatic parent who is freaked out because your little princess had a case of hurt feelings.

Perhaps this gentleman can help us with our unruly teacher. Photo suggestion by The Major

The principal was rightly upset by the news.  He said he would speak with the teacher immediately.  He wanted to call The Fashionista in to speak with her as well.  We nixed that.  The apology wasn’t the issue here.  We wanted him not to treat other students in this manner.

As a side note, we were happy to receive so many thoughtful comments on our last blog post on this topic.  Everyone was outraged.  Even folks who teach at the college level indicated that they would never in their right mind use such language about a student’s work.

Sunday night the phone rings.  I loathe talking on the phone.  It’s like a phobia or something, but I’ll save that rant for another day.  I was upstairs tucking Island Boy into bed when I heard The Major answer the phone.

For awhile I couldn’t tell whom he was speaking with.  I could tell he wasn’t thrilled to be on the phone.  Eventually, I figured out who it was.  The teacher said he was calling at the bidding of the principal to check on how The Fashionista was doing.  Um, fine…(awkward pause)…The Major probably wondering if he was supposed to ask in a Joey from “Friends” voice,  “How you doin’?”

The Major asked why the teacher was calling.  The guy was playing coy.  He acted as if he had no earthly idea what the issue was.  The Major tried again, saying, “I know what my daughter told me happened in your class.  There are always two sides to a story.  Would you like to tell me your side?”  He got nothing back.

Okaaaaay.  “Did the principal tell you what my daughter is telling us you said?  Do you know why we are upset?”  Things began to get a little heated.  The Major says, “Look, you called me.  I’m sorry if you are feeling uncomfortable, but why are you calling me?”

This went nowhere fast.  The teacher ended up bidding TM a good night and pretty much hung up on him.

The Major is no dummy.  At one point in time he was given the principal’s cell phone number.  He held on to it.  TM decided to call the principal at home on a Sunday night.  The principal is a good guy and took time out of his home life to help us out.

This might work with the teacher. Photo suggestion by The Major (although, his own muzzle doesn't seem to be working)

We discovered that the principal did indeed tell the teacher exactly what we were upset about.  The teacher knew full well what words we were questioning him on.  If honestly he did not remember (two weeks later) using these words, he could have said, “I do not recall saying, ‘This project sucks.’, but if I did, then I apologize.  These are clearly not words that are appropriate to be using with students.”  End of discussion.  We would have been happy and that would have been the end of it.

The problem with this scenario is that TF’s best friend approached the teacher the day after he made these comments.  Her BFF said, “You know, you really hurt The Fashionista’s feelings when you said that about her project.”

His response?  “Really?  I said that?  I don’t remember.”  HOLY COW!  He had his words repeated back to him the day after he said them.  Then his boss reminded him this week that he used these words.  Suddenly, a few days later, he’s forgotten again? I don’t think so.

The principal sent an email to the teacher that night asking to see him the following morning, immediately and before school started.  We do not know exactly what occurred at that meeting.  We do know that the principal called The Major back and let him know that the teacher now “gets it”.

The principal also asked if TM wanted a phone call from the teacher.  No, thanks.  Then it’s like an apology because your boss said you have to call and apologize.

Did TM want a sit down with the teacher?  Again, no thanks.  That ship has sailed.  All we want is for him to choose his words more carefully in the future.

If we were betting people, we would lay down a wager that this has probably happened before with this teacher.  If this man is that cavalier with his words and doesn’t even remember saying them, then there’s a bigger problem here.  That’s too bad.  We hope that, in the future, he thinks twice about how he speaks to his students.

On the upside, Subway Dude does a spot-on impersonation of the middle school principal.  But, in a very nice way.  Oh my gosh, The Major and I were laughing and crying as SD broke into his impersonation.  It certainly lightened up a stressful situation.

–Running Girl

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4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Don on November 16, 2010 at 8:53 am

    Excellent outcome! I am skeptical whether much change in attitude and behavior will occur with this teacher. He doesn’t remember what he said probably because he is so used to talking like that regularly. I have done a lot of classroom observations over the years in my job. Usually teachers are sharp enough to be on good behavior while an observer is in the room. I am sorry to say that not all have been that sharp and I’ve seen some awful teacher behavior on a few occasions….

    Reply

  2. Posted by Lisa N. on November 16, 2010 at 9:18 am

    I have mixed feelings on the results. I’m glad (& hopeful) this is all behind, so TF can move on. But it drives me crazy when my kids say “Im sorry” after I’ve already called them out on something, the lack of sincerity always tweaks me. That’s what this story reminds me of.. a child being called to the mat, and he didn’t even have the …. to actually apologize.
    I’ve heard from other teacher friends, that sometimes teachers (especially if they are younger) like to appear “cool” to the kids & use language to try to fit in. Maybe that’s what he was doing & why he doesn’t recall the comment “Hey, TF this Sucks” (ie: trying to sound cool & comparing it to the work he knows she capable of) Either way, whatever the ’cause’, hope he has learned a lesson himself & grows up.

    Reply

  3. Posted by Alice on November 16, 2010 at 10:48 am

    I’m so glad there was a follow up to this. Sadly, it confirms my suspicion that this guy is an a-hole. I actually did choose that word carefully. I think the best part of this is that the principal is now aware and hopefully will keep an eye on his behavior. Thanks for filling us in!

    Reply

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